Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ten Things Your IT Department Won't Tell You

By VAUHINI VARA July 30, 2007; Page R1
Admit it: For many of us, our work computer is a home away from home. It seems only fair, since our home computer is typically an office away from the office. So in between typing up reports and poring over spreadsheets, we use our office PCs to keep up with our lives. We do birthday shopping, check out funny clips on YouTube and catch up with friends by email or instant message.
And often it's just easier to accomplish certain tasks using consumer technology than using the sometimes clunky office technology our company gives us -- compare Gmail with a corporate email account.
Security expert Mark Lobel of PricewaterhouseCoopers describes the most common things employees do on the internet to jeopardize company security. There's only one problem with what we're doing: Our employers sometimes don't like it. Partly, they want us to work while we're at work. And partly, they're afraid that what we're doing compromises the company's computer network -- putting the company at risk in a host of ways. So they've asked their information-technology departments to block us from bringing our home to work.
End of story? Not so fast. To find out whether it's possible to get around the IT departments, we asked Web experts for some advice. Specifically, we asked them to find the top 10 secrets our IT departments don't want us to know. How to surf to blocked sites without leaving any traces, for instance, or carry on instant-message chats without having to download software.
But, to keep everybody honest, we also turned to security pros to learn just what chances we take by doing an end run around the IT department.
For hacking advice, we asked Gina Trapani, editor of Lifehacker.com, an online guide to being more productive on the Web; Leon Ho, editor of Lifehack.org, a blog with a similar mission; and Mark Frauenfelder, founder of the wide-ranging blog BoingBoing.net and editor of the do-it-yourself technology magazine Make.
To find out the risks, we talked to three experts who make a living helping IT departments make the rules and track down the rogue employees who break them. They are: John Pironti, chief information risk strategist at Amsterdam-based IT-consulting firm Getronics NV; Mark Lobel, a security expert in PricewaterhouseCoopers's advisory practice; and Craig Schmugar, a threat researcher at security-software maker McAfee Inc.
The Problem: Everybody needs to email big files from time to time, everything from big marketing presentations to vacation photos. But if you send anything larger than a few megabytes, chances are you'll get an email saying you've hit the company's limit. Companies cap the amount of data employees can send and store in email for a very simple reason: They want to avoid filling up their servers, and thus slowing them down, says messaging-research firm Osterman Research Inc., of Black Diamond, Wash. And getting your company to increase your email limit can be a convoluted process.
The Trick: Use online services such as YouSendIt Inc., SendThisFile Inc. and Carson Systems Ltd.'s DropSend, which let you send large files -- sometimes up to a few gigabytes in size -- free of charge. To use the services, you typically have to register, supplying personal information such as name and email address. You can then enter the recipient's email address and a message to him or her, and the site will give you instructions for uploading the file. In most cases, the site will send the recipient a link that he or she can click to download the file.
The Problem: Many companies require that employees get permission from the IT department to download software. But that can be problematic if you're trying to download software that your IT department has blacklisted.
The Trick: There are two easy ways around this: finding Web-based alternatives or bringing in the software on an outside device. The first is easier. Say your company won't let you download the popular AOL Instant Messenger program, from Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit. You can still instant-message with colleagues and friends using a Web-based version of the service called AIM Express (AIM.com/aimexpress.adp). There's also Google Inc.'s instant-messaging service, Google Talk, accessible at Google.com/talk. There are Web-based equivalents of software such as music players and videogames, too -- typically, skimpier versions with fewer features than the regular programs.
The other approach to this problem is more involved but gives you access to actual software programs on your computer. All three of our experts pointed to a company called Rare Ideas LLC (RareIdeas.com), which offers free versions of popular programs such as Firefox and OpenOffice. You can download the software onto a portable device like an iPod or a USB stick, through a service called Portable Apps (PortableApps.com). Then hook the device up to your work computer, and you're ready to go. (But if your company blocks you from using external devices, you're out of luck.)
The Risk: Using Web-based services can be a strain on your company's resources. And bringing in software on outside devices can present a security problem. IT departments like to keep track of all the software used by employees, so that if a bug or other security problem arises, they can easily put fixes in place. That's not the case if you've brought the program in on your own.
Another thing to keep in mind: Some less reputable software programs, especially underground file-sharing programs, could come loaded with spyware and make it possible for your own files to leak onto the Web.
How to Stay Safe: If you bring in software on an outside device, says Mr. Lobel, make sure you at least tweak the security settings on your computer's antivirus software so that it scans the device for potential threats. That's easy to do, usually through an Options or Settings menu. Likewise, if you use a file-sharing service, set it up so that others can't access your own files, also through an Options or Settings area.
The Problem: Companies often block employees from visiting certain sites -- ranging from the really nefarious (porn) to probably bad (gambling) to mostly innocuous (Web-based email services).
The Trick: Even if your company won't let you visit those sites by typing their Web addresses into your browser, you can still sometimes sneak your way onto them. You travel to a third-party site, called a proxy, and type the Web address you want into a search box. Then the proxy site travels to the site you want and displays it for you -- so you can see the site without actually visiting it. Proxy.org, for one, features a list of more than 4,000 proxies.
Another way to accomplish the same thing, from Mr. Frauenfelder and Ms. Trapani: Use Google's translation service, asking it to do an English-to-English translation. Just enter this -- Google.com/translate?langpair=enen&u=www.blockedsite.com -- replacing "blockedsite.com" with the Web address of the site you want to visit. Google effectively acts as a proxy, calling up the site for you.
The Risk: If you use a proxy to, say, catch up on email or watch a YouTube video, the main risk is getting caught by your boss. But there are scarier security risks: Online bad guys sometimes buy Web addresses that are misspellings of popular sites, then use them to infect visitors' computers, warns Mr. Lobel. Companies often block those sites, too -- but you won't be protected from them if you use a proxy.
How to Stay Safe: Don't make a habit of using proxies for all your Web surfing. Use them only to visit specific sites that your company blocks for productivity-related reasons -- say, YouTube. And watch your spelling.

The Problem: If you use a company-owned laptop at home, chances are you use it for personal tasks: planning family vacations, shopping for beach books, organizing online photo albums and so on. Many companies reserve the right to monitor all that activity, because the laptops are technically their property. So what happens if your -- ahem -- friend accidentally surfs onto a porn site or does a Web search for some embarrassing ailment?
The Trick: The latest versions of the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers both make it easy to clear your tracks. In IE7, click on Tools, then Delete Browsing History. From there, you can either delete all your history by clicking Delete All or choose one or a few kinds of data to delete. In Firefox, just hit Ctrl-Shift-Del -- or click Clear Private Data under the Tools menu.
The Risk: Even if you clear your tracks, you still face risks from roaming all over the Web. You could unintentionally install spyware on your computer from visiting a sketchy site or get your boss involved in legal problems for your behavior. If you're caught, it could mean (at best) embarrassment or (at worst) joblessness.
How to Stay Safe: Clear your private data as often as possible. Better yet, don't use your work computer to do anything you wouldn't want your boss to know about.
The Problem: You're catching up on work late at night or over the weekend -- but the documents you need to search through are stuck on your office PC.
The Trick: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and IAC/InterActiveCorp's Ask unit have all released software that lets you quickly search your desktop documents. On top of that, some will let you search through documents saved on one computer from another one. How does it work? The search company keeps a copy of your documents on its own server. So it can scan those copies when you do a search remotely.
To use Google's software -- among the most popular -- follow these steps on both your work and home PC. First, you'll need to set up a Google account on both machines by visiting Google.com/accounts. (Be sure to use the same account on both computers.) Then go to Desktop.Google.com to download the search software. When it's up and running -- again, do this on both machines -- click on Desktop Preferences, then Google Account Features. From there, check the box next to Search Across Computers. After that point, any document you open on either machine will be copied to Google's servers -- and will be searchable from either machine.
The Risk: Corporate technology managers offer this nightmare scenario: You've saved top-secret financial information on your work PC. You set up desktop-search software so that you can access those files when working from home on your laptop. Then you lose your laptop. Uh-oh.
Getting hold of your company's internal documents could give others insight into your plans, and losing certain information could have legal repercussions. In particular, myriad state laws regulate how a company has to react when it loses private information about customers or employees; most require notifying those people about the breach in writing. Sending those notifications can be costly for your company -- not to mention damaging to its reputation.
On top of that threat, researchers have found vulnerabilities in Google's desktop-search software that could let a hacker trick a user into giving up access to files, says Mr. Schmugar of McAfee. (Those vulnerabilities have since been fixed, but more could crop up, he says.)
Matt Glotzbach, product management director for Google Enterprise, says there are bound to be vulnerabilities in any software and that, to the best of his knowledge, none of the Google Desktop vulnerabilities were exploited by hackers. He adds that when Google finds out about a vulnerability, it quickly fixes it and notifies users.
How to Stay Safe: If you have any files on your work PC that shouldn't be made public, ask your IT administrator to help you set up Google Desktop to avoid accidental leaks.
The Problem: Desktop search aside, most people who often work away from the office have come up with their own solution to getting access to work files. They save them on a disk or a portable device and then plug it into a home computer. Or they store the files on the company network, then access the network remotely. But portable devices can be cumbersome, and company-network connections can be slow and unreliable.
The Trick: Use an online-storage service from the likes of Box.net Inc., Streamload Inc. or AOL-owned Xdrive. (Box.net also offers its service inside the social-networking site Facebook.) Most offer some free storage, from one to five gigabytes, and charge a few dollars a month for premium packages with extra space. Another guerrilla storage solution is to email files to your private, Web-based email account, such as Gmail or Hotmail.
The Risk: A bad guy could steal your password for one of these sites and quickly grab copies of your company's sensitive files.
How to Stay Safe: When you're thinking about storing a file online, ask yourself if it would be OK for that file to be splashed all over the Internet or sent to the CEO of your company's top rival. If so, go for it. If not, don't.
The Problem: Many companies now have the ability to track employees' emails, both on work email accounts and personal Web-based accounts, as well as IM conversations.
The Trick: When you send emails -- using either your work or personal email address -- you can encrypt them, so that only you and the recipient can read them. In Microsoft Outlook, click on Tools, then Options and choose the Security tab. There, you can enter a password -- and nobody can open a note from you without supplying it. (Of course, you'll have to tell people the code beforehand.)
For Web-based personal email, try this trick from Mr. Frauenfelder: When checking email, add an "s" to the end of the "http" in front of your email provider's Web address -- for instance, https://www.gmail.com/. This throws you into a secure session, so that nobody can track your email. Not all Web services may support this, however.
To encrypt IM conversations, meanwhile, try the IM service Trillian from Cerulean Studios LLC, which lets you connect to AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and others -- and lets you encrypt your IM conversations so that they can't be read.
The Risk: The main reason companies monitor email is to catch employees who are leaking confidential information. By using these tricks, you may set off false alarms and make it harder for the IT crew to manage real threats.
How to Stay Safe: Use these tricks only occasionally, instead of as a default.
The Problem: Anyone without a BlackBerry knows the feeling: There's a lull in the conversation when you're out to dinner or an after-work beer, and everyone reaches for their pocket to grab their BlackBerry, leaving you alone to stir your drink.
The Trick: You, too, can stay up to date on work email, using any number of consumer-oriented hand-held devices. Just set up your work email so that all your emails get forwarded to your personal email account.
In Microsoft Outlook, you can do this by right-clicking on any email, choosing Create Rule, and asking that all your email be forwarded to another address. Then, set up your hand-held to receive your personal email, by following instructions from the service provider for your hand-held. (That's the company that sends you your bill.)
The Risk: Now, not only can hackers break into your personal account by going online on a
computer, they can also break into it by exploiting security vulnerabilities on your mobile device.
How to Stay Safe: There's a kosher way to access work email on some devices, by getting passwords and other information from your IT department.
The Problem: If you do have a BlackBerry, you've probably got a different problem: You want to get your personal email just as easily as work email.
The Trick: Look at the Settings area of your personal email account, and make sure you've enabled POP -- Post Office Protocol -- a method used to retrieve email from elsewhere. Then log in to the Web site for your BlackBerry service provider. Click on the Profile button, look for the Email Accounts section and click on Other Email Accounts. Then click Add Account and enter the information for your Web-based email account. Now your personal emails will pop up on the same screen as your company email.
The Risk: Your company probably uses a whole bunch of security technology to keep viruses and spies out of your files. When you receive personal email on your BlackBerry, it's coming to you without passing through your company's firewall. That means viruses or spyware could sneak onto your BlackBerry via a personal email, says Mr. Schmugar of McAfee. Worse yet, he says, when you plug your BlackBerry into your work computer, there's a chance that the malicious software could jump onto your hard drive.
How to Stay Safe: Cross your fingers and hope that your personal email provider is doing a decent job weeding out viruses, spyware and other intruders. (Chances are, it is.)
The Problem: You're doing some vital Web surfing and your boss turns the corner. What do you do?
The Trick: Hit Alt-Tab to quickly minimize one window (say, the one where you're browsing ESPN.com) and maximize another (like that presentation that's due today).
The Risk: The good news is that there are no known security risks.
How to Stay Safe: Get back to work.
--Ms. Vara is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal's San Francisco bureau.
Write to Vauhini Vara at vauhini.vara@wsj.com

Sunday, July 29, 2007

SCN Column Preview

“Quiet Numbskulls, I’m Broadcasting”

Written by John Mayberry
For Systems Contractor News
August 2007

Moe may get his wish again in yet another format. Once tethered to Saturday theater matinees, the Three Stooges successfully made the technical transition to television in the 1950’s. Now they’re about to blaze new trails once again over Wi-Fi narrowcasting with the new 802.11n standard implementation.

The standard, due to be published this September and already sold in the stores, allows for typical data rates sufficiently high for point to point high definition video broadcasting. Imagine- wireless HD coming soon to a home very similar to your own!

802.11n allows for line of sight connectivity to 350 straight line feet from a transceiver. It operates in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrums, with a maximum data rate of 700 Mb/s, with typical data rates of 100-200 Mb/s. Due to the multiple in, multiple out (MIMO) signaling techniques of 802.11n, the equipment is easily identified by multiple router antennae sticking up.

Mind you the definition of “point to point” is not exactly what it once meant either. While a source may emanate from a single location, streaming technology allows for many users to simultaneously watch even if their timing may be asynchronous.

There is of course a catch. While 802.11n gives us the wireless capacity locally, our moribund hardwired networks continue to lag. Yes, we still have those pesky pipe issues into our offices, schools, and homes to deal with that limit transmission signal quality. The best commercially available service here is by cable modem at 15 Mb/s. A more typical connection speed is 2 Mb/s.

Yet the situation is changing. Technicolor claims to have sent the first motion picture (Transformers) via satellite to both domestic and international theaters this July using an integrator neutral digital cinema distribution network. It speaks volumes about our domestic internet infrastructure that this could not be sent via a terrain based system.

Our firm did help hook up a local school district to an OC-12 connection recently, but it required adding new fiber throughout the town and an expensive monthly commitment. Four months into the project only half the schools are finished, as a neighboring town holds up some permits.

One couldn’t help but be jealous reading that NTT Domoco plans on implementing a 300 MB/s wireless nationwide network by 2009 in Japan. I don’t think our local suppliers are even thinking such thoughts, let alone have an implementation plan. It’s a bit embarrassing how far US technology if falling behind in some areas. That’s about 500 times faster than what’s available here today.

In truth the distinction between broadcast video and Internet video has been blurred for sometime. Our kids spend hours watching the YouTubes and Facebooks of Internet rather than watching conventional cable television. For them it is often more entertaining. Certainly the television manufacturers want this era to begin.

Watching “Swinging the Alphabet” by the Three Stooges on YouTube this morning as part of my research I realized when my father watched it at the Cadet Theater in Claremore, Oklahoma in 1938 the same content was substantially better in appearance than what I saw over the Internet today in our office. Today’s comparison is more akin to a 1952 vintage television set with a fuzzy six inch screen rather than the 35 mm 60 foot wide projection he viewed.

Yet the piece parts for narrowcasting continue to fall into place, even if somewhat haphazardly. Perhaps the broadcast firms will adapt to the new marketplace with something other than inexpensive reality shows.

One would think existing networks would stress the quality of their product. Yet right now the only new Star Trek episodes being made are not on the Paramount studio lot but out of a guy’s house in South Pasadena, California. The Star Trek: Hidden Frontier series features remarkably sophisticated visual graphics and plot lines. The acting makes Shatner look like Shakespeare, but hopefully that will improve in time. Narrowcasting will need lots of low cost content.

Recently a number of highly localized ad based systems companies have begun to sprout up. One of the first advertisers to sign up was Dell, as the advertising firm claimed to be able to connect with all the techies on a single university campus for roughly a $1,000. One can speculate that this may soon become part of the norm, eventually drilling down to even a single individual the day he just cashed his paycheck. After all, there’s no sense sending them an ad if their bank account’s empty.

We’re in a strange place right now regarding digital connectivity. Lots of untested good ideas, but only a few companies have figured out how to make serious money off of displaying content. Things may start changing soon. One day we may each have our own dedicated channel.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Prying Eyes

Stephane Fitch

Little Ipsotek has great antiterrorism technology. Is that enough for a business?

The failed car bombings in the U.K. last month gave a showcase role to security technology. Security cameras recorded men leaving the scene of the two unexploded car bombs in London. License-plate-reading software on highway cams helped lead police to Scotland--and the fiery auto attack on Glasgow Airport.

Such threats represent opportunity to Andrew Malim, a 64-year-old Brit who sells video analytics software for the U.K.'s ubiquitous closed-circuit tv cameras. Malim is chief executive of
Ipsotek, a tiny developer of visual-intelligence systems he picked up in late 2005 for $660,000, most of it raised from banker friends (Malim himself bought an 11% share). Since then he's chalked up some nice accounts. In May he landed a contract with the new owners of London's 20,000-seat Millennium Dome, recently reopened (under the name The o2) and the future site of gymnastics and basketball competitions at the 2012 Olympics. His software will monitor cameras outside the Saatchi Gallery. And he is also installing Ipsotek software on cameras at the Brit Oval cricket stadium, which seats 25,000 and hosts matches with teams from Pakistan and elsewhere. Ipsotek can "do for security cameras what Dolby did for hi-fi stereo," says Malim.

Ipsotek has great technology but is struggling--the result of entrenched competition, poor marketing and underconfidence at the top. In his two previous ventures Malim squeezed out some profits, but his timing was disastrous. In 1980, the year gold began its two-decade plummet, he launched a mining investment firm, surviving by shifting from commodities trading to providing venture capital to small prospectors. In 2000, on the cusp of the dot-com collapse, he founded a Wi-Fi company. He scraped along by picking up exclusive rights to sell wireless broadband access at 400 airports, rail stations and hotels, then bundling the "hot spot" contracts for sale to Swisscom.

Spy cams are now hot. Worldwide sales will approach $100 million this year, says London research firm Frost & Sullivan, and rise 23% annually for the next few years. But there are more than two dozen video analytics firms.

Ipsotek is a shrimp. Malim expects losses in 2007 on estimated revenue of $3 million. That puts him well behind ObjectVideo (projected 2007 sales: $30 million) of Reston, Va., founded by scientists and managers from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is monitoring platforms for the New York City subway system; and Israel's Nice Systems, a $500-million-a-year maker of digital recording systems that also sells analytics and keeps an electronic eye on Paris' Eiffel Tower.

Malim charges more than $2,000 per camera, two to three times what ObjectVideo and other rivals charge for their software. Getting better distribution would help him catch up, but Malim hasn't sought a merger partner. No telling whether Ipsotek can survive on its own. "There will absolutely be consolidation," says Gavin Long, security tech analyst at USBX, in Los Angeles. Security firms like ADT and Chubb and big camera makers like Panasonic, Philips, Sony and Siemens will focus on but a few vendors. Their distribution clout will likely determine which software packages win in the end. Says Long: "Only a fool thinks the industry will be won by the best technology."

Still, Ipsotek is banking on its sophisticated software, developed over nine years with $10 million (mostly in U.K. and European Union grants) by Kingston University researchers Sergio Velastin and Boghos A. Boghossian. While most analytics programs, like those that operate in CCTV cameras, typically seize on any object in a scene that moves--and can be tricked by flocks of birds, say, or falling snow--few can detect trouble in crowded scenes and so don't work well in the real world. Ipsotek's software also tracks motion but then takes a crucial second step: It seeks out the edges of objects and performs calculations based on how the outline of an object moves (or remains static) against the background. In this way it can spot a man running in front of rustling tree or detect an abandoned backpack on a busy train platform.

This spring Malim began raising $4 million in the hopes of adding ten or so salespeople and tech supporters to that group of five and recently hired away ObjectVideo's leading sales guy in the U.K. But Malim himself is not well known in the security industry, and that is an obstacle in his efforts to persuade Philips, Sony or Panasonic to offer a line of cameras preloaded with Ipsotek software. (Siemens already owns an Atlanta video analytics software company, VistaScape Security Systems.) The most natural partner may be Philips; Ipsotek's software is configured to run on Philips' Trimedia video chip, which performs 50 billion operations per second --ninefold faster than the Texas Instruments (nyse: TXN - news - people ) chip popular among Ipsotek rivals.

Malim also has something else working in his favor: camera-mad Britain. Ever since the terrorist attacks by the Irish Republican Army in the 1980s and 1990s the island is an incubator of CCTV technology. Its 4 million security cameras are five times as numerous per capita as those in the U.S. and 40 times as plentiful per square mile.

Perhaps Ipsotek can focus on the high end of the market and leave the mass contracts to others. Install Ipsotek software in 5% of the security cameras in the U.K., Malim says, and there's $400 million in sales. Ipsotek is one of just two British analytics companies in a position to bid for the software contract for the security cameras at the 2012 Olympics, Malim believes. "For the first time in my life," he says, "I feel I am in exactly the right place at precisely the right moment."
Still, he frets, Ipsotek should be raising $10 million in its next financing round. To bring in that kind of cash, he's considering stepping aside. Says he, adding cheer to a stiff upper lip: "The board thinks, and I think, too, we're going to need a chief executive with a real record of growing a technology company like this to full scale."

By the Numbers

We See You

Spy cams may soon be ubiquitous in the Western World.

300 The number of times per day the average Londoner is spotted on CCTV.

$212 million The value of spy cams and software being installed in the New York City subway system.

39% The percentage of European security cams aimed at preventing violence.

50 The number of DVDs needed to store a month's worth of video from one camera.

Sources: USBX; Center for Technology & Science; CCTV Image.

Friday, July 27, 2007

iPhone a Bust?

Just too expensive for something that will last two years?

ATT reports fewer Apple iPhone subscribers than expected
By Troy WolvertonMercury News

Shares of AT&T and Apple fell this morning after the telecommunications giant reported that it signed up fewer iPhone subscribers around the time of its launch than many expected. Apple and AT&T began offering the iPhone, Apple's new mobile handset, on June 29. By the end of the day on June 30, when AT&T's second quarter ended, only 146,000 iPhones had been activated to use its cellular network.

Analysts had estimated that the companies sold up to 700,000 iPhones over the initial launch weekend, which included one day, July 1, that fell outside AT&T's quarter.

Motorized Video Conference Screen System

Stewart Filmscreen introduced their $14k 92" motorized video conference screen in a concealed enclosure. Very nice. The demonstration model included two JBL Control One Speakers that automatically drop down as well. Note the drop down camera housing on the bottom.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Matchbox Car Creator Dies

Jack Odell, creator of Matchbox and Lledo models, diesBefore there was a “die-cast collectibles” market, before there were certificates of authenticity and serial numbers and all manner of marketing gimmickry. Before there was a Jada, a Johnny Lightning, or a Hot Wheels, there was Matchbox—a brand that lit millions of kid-sized imaginations worldwide, a name that turned generations of kids into car enthusiasts. How many of us remember driving down fantasy highways for destinations unknown, putting ourselves behind the wheel of a Matchbox car? How many of us used toy cars as an entry into the greater automotive hobby—real cars or otherwise? How many of us learned about cars from around the world, just from our toy collections? If you grew up from the late ’50s to mid-to-late ’60s, Matchbox was the toy car of choice. There would have been no Matchbox without Jack Odell.

Born in London in 1920, Odell was kicked out of school at age 13 and was never formally trained as an engineer. Even so, mechanics and tinkering helped him scrape up a living, but it wasn’t until 1947 that he joined Lesley and Rodney Smith (unrelated to each other) at Lesney, a die-casting facility. He quickly got up to speed on the process and shortly he paid the Smiths two pounds a week rent for space. In 1950, the school that Odell’s daughter attended forbade toys any larger than a box of matches, so he handcrafted a brass steamroller for her. Thus, the idea was born. Odell tooled up for a toy state coach as early as 1950, but zinc restrictions during the Korean War kept it under wraps; the unsteady business caused Rodney Smith to leave in ’51. But by ’52 the restrictions were lifted, and painted gold it became the Coronation Coach, released in time for Queen Elizabeth II’s rise to the throne. This was the company’s initial die-cast hit, selling a million copies and allowing for the tooling for the Matchbox line. And Matchbox took off: They were big enough for little fingers but small enough that kids couldn’t choke on them. And they were cheap—kids could buy one for pocket money. Odell worked from manufacturers’ blueprints and photos for each new model. He was deeply proud of the fact that machine tools were the only equipment he hadn’t made in the factory. The company went public in 1960, making a million cars a week, and by 1964, Matchbox made a million cars a day. (He famously told The New York Times in 1962, “We make more Rolls-Royces in a day than the Rolls-Royce company has made in its entire history.”

This, plus an aggressive new-model program (two new vehicles a month), meant that at their 1960s peak, more than 300 million cars per year were sold in 140 countries around the world, with two million a week sold in the U.S. alone. He was very much involved in the factory goings-on, preferring to be on the factory floor and eat lunch in the cafeteria than disappear into an ivory tower. Odell was made an OBE in 1969. The company employed more than 6,000 workers in a dozen factories across London, and threw a scare into the Meccano (Dinky) group in Liverpool, whose cars were larger and a good deal more expensive.

In turn, Mattel’s fast-rolling upstart, Hot Wheels, had made a splash on the American market in the late ’60s; Matchbox responded with the Superfast line, but even so, the ’70s weren’t kind to the vaunted die-cast brand, and in 1982, the company was sold to the Universal company, based in the Far East. In 1993, they were bought by Tyco, which was absorbed by Mattel a decade ago.

Odell, meanwhile, bought all of the machine-room tools from the new owners, and started the Lledo line (Lledo is Odell spelled backwards) which concentrated on larger-scale pre-war era commercial vehicles in its “Days Gone By” series, with colorful vintage ads from all manner of commercial goods on the side. He sold this second company in 1996. Odell died July 7 of complications from Parkinson’s; he was 87. - By Jeff Koch

Industry Loses One of the Nice Ones

Alan Dresner
On Sunday, July 8, 2007, in Minneapolis, MN. He is survived by wife Deya; son, Alexander; mother, Marita Dresner; sister, Denise Dresner; cousins Fay Neufeld, Matthew Morse and Jesse Morse; and a wide circle of friends. He worked in the visual communications industry for 26 years and was recognized as a leading authority in the field. Most recently he worked for Electrosonic Ltd in Minneapolis as general manager for North American Video Display Solutions. A longtime resident of Washington DC, he was born in New York and grew up in Rome, Italy. A memorial service will be held in September in Washington. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the National Cancer Institute.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Marketing and Car Audio

ABI Research

Five Minutes with . . . Mike Ippoliti, Research Director, Telematics & Automotive

Mike Ippoliti’s expertise derives from his extensive background with a major automaker, heading up its Market Intelligence team. His experience within the Telematics and Automotive arena brings a wealth of insight to ABI Research.

Analyst Insider posed Mike the question, “Where do analysts find the greatest difficulties when evaluating infotainment systems?”

Mike replies, “Audio system quality is a great starting point because everyone has an opinion. If you think about it, a car is a terrible place to listen to music: road noise, engine noise, and plastic panels which resonate are only a few examples. The complex question is how to evaluate a car audio system – what sounds ‘good’ to one person may or may not be ideal for another.
And the evaluation of automotive audio is still being refined. The SAE (among others) is trying to set standards, which invariably takes time. For now, evaluations are performed in the same fashion as for home audio: experts compare systems and assess fundamental factors that contribute to ‘goodness,’ like bass response, treble clarity, transient response and the like. But in a car, one needs to perform these tests in the park position, when driving 30 mph, when driving 70 mph, while on a smooth or rough road, etc. Again, it can be a complex process.

The simple answer to this intricate question may be allegorical: audio systems are like wine, and maybe that’s why I enjoy learning about both

Simpsons to Replace Back to the Future Ride

Universal shut down the Back to the Future Ride this week...

Disney Replacing EPCOT Canada Film Soon?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Access IT Nabs Mo' Digital Cinema

For those keeping score, Christie's got about 80% of the worldwide market...

By Carolyn Giardina July 21, 2007 Hollywood Reporter
Access Integrated Technologies announced a digital-cinema deployment and preshow programming deal with Showplace Cinemas.Showplace intends to convert 39 megaplex screens in three locations to digital cinema using AccessIT's Theatre Command Center software and preshow programming and Christie DLP Cinema projectors. The completion of this contract would bring AccessIT's Christie/AIX program to a total of 3,486 screens committed of the 4,000 in the plan."
Already a customer of our PreFlix screen advertising, we are pleased to expand our relationship with Showplace Cinemas," said Chuck Goldwater, president of AccessIT's media services group. "AccessIT is looking forward to working with them providing our digital cinema solutions and programming from our alternative content division, the Bigger Picture."

AccessIT has completed the rollout of about 2,700 screens with exhibitors including Marquee Cinemas, Neighborhood Cinema Group, Celebration Cinema, Cinema West, Cinetopia, Emagine, UltraStar, Galaxy, Rave, Carmike Cinemas and AccessIT's Pavilion Digital Showcase Cinema.

Orban Purchased from Harman

July 24, 2007: 09:00 AM EST

TEMPE, Ariz., July 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Circuit Research Labs, Inc. announced today that it has entered into and closed a Purchase Agreement with Harman Pro North America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harman International Industries, Incorporated .

Pursuant to the purchase agreement, on Friday July 13th 2007, CRLI purchased for $1.5 million dollars cash all its promissory notes and shares of its common shares owned by Harman Pro North America. The notes had been issued by CRLI and its President, C. Jayson Brentlinger, to Harman in connection with transactions between the parties several years ago. The aggregate remaining principal balance of the notes repurchased was $3,265,030. The 1,638,457 shares repurchased represented approximately 18.9% of the total number of CRLI shares then outstanding.

Funding for the $1.5 million purchase price was provided by Jayson Russell Brentlinger, father of the company's President, CEO and Chairman C. Jayson Brentlinger.
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Harman transferred promissory notes made by CRLI totaling $2.3 million plus unpaid interest, the shares of common stock owned by Harman, and promissory notes totaling $1.0 million dollars made by C. Jayson Brentlinger in connection with an earlier purchase by Mr. Brentlinger of 2,104,000 shares of CRLI stock then owned by Harman in April 2005.

Commenting on today's announcement, C. Jayson Brentlinger, President, CEO and Chairman of Circuit Research Labs, Inc. stated, "We have enjoyed a great working relationship with Harman over the past seven years, and now with this final settlement we have successfully concluded our purchase of Orban, Inc. from Harman." Brentlinger continued, "I can't say enough about the professionalism of the Harman team, they have always been very honest and fair in all our many different transactions, an attitude that starts with the company's CEO Sidney Harman and then to every member of the Harman team."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Imax Moving Forward

Pleasant surprise...


Imax pleased investors Friday with its first-quarter results. Although it posted a loss, the release helps the company move past troublesome accounting problems.

Imax (nasdaq: IMAX - news - people ) announced Friday that its first quarter loss widened to $4.9 million, or 12 cents per share, from $3.7 million, or 9 cents per share a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting a loss of 14 cents per share for the period ending March 31.

Shares of the company jumped 47 cents, or 10.7%, to $4.87, as the company also completed its restatement of previous financial results. The move sets the company to move beyond accounting problems that have clouded its stock.

In March, Imax announced it would need to delay the filing of its annual and quarterly reports because it found errors in the accounting of its films, inventory capitalization and taxes. The errors led the company to overstate earnings by about $4.0 million between 2002 to 2006.
The company filed the delayed annual and quarterly reports on Friday. Imax Co-Chief Executives Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Weschler said they were "happy to be moving ahead unencumbered by the overhang of delayed filings."

However, Imax isn't completely clear of its accounting problems yet. Investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Ontario Securities Commission are ongoing.
Imax, which is headquarter in Ontario, Canada, operates giant movie screens. It operates 283 theaters in 40 countries. Last year, the company put itself on the auction block. Although the company reportedly received offers from companies like Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people ), it couldn't find an acceptable deal. (See: "Imax Off The Block")

Despite its problems, Imax is drawing movie-goers. Its showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grossed $11.6 million at its first week in Imax theaters. That's the company's biggest opening week ever.

--The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Steve Jobs Greedy?


July 18, 2007 -- MAYBE greed is good, as Gordon Gekko said in "Wall Street," but no one likes to be called "greedy." So foreheads flexed last Thursday in Sun Valley, Idaho, when Sony honcho Sir Howard Stringer used that word to describe Apple chairman Steve Jobs. Stringer was part of a panel at the Allen & Co. media mogul powwow with Barry Diller (IAC), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Sergey Brin (Google), discussing how technology has changed the way people get their entertainment and news.
According to one audience member, Stringer said it's funny that Jobs accuses record companies of greed because they want to get paid for music downloads. Stringer said Jobs, who just launched the iPhone, is the "greedy" one because he wants a world where only he makes money. Moderator Anderson Cooper suddenly changed the subject, but Diller said, "Anderson, you're missing something here, Howard Stringer just called Steve Jobs greedy." But when Cooper went back to Stringer, the Sony boss diplomatically backed off.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

NBC at the Checkout Line

Thomson's PRN, NBC, and Progressive Insurance sign Digital Signage Pact

The agreement continues a long-time collaboration between PRN and NBC in the out-of home media market, as NBC has been an advertiser and entertainment content partner to PRN since 2000. As part of the agreement, NBC Universal will develop short-form content that will offer key targeted advertisers integrated branding opportunities designed specifically for the supermarket environment. The content will air on PRN's Supermarket Checkout TV, which is viewed more than 45 million times each month by consumers in retail stores across the country.

The leading American Insurance company, Progressive Insurance, has signed on as the charter advertiser and will be featured in special segments that integrate its brand, promote interactivity and drive consumers to its website.

Disney, Communism, Blacklisting, and Peanuts

David Hilberman, 95, died this week. His career had a major impact in the Hollywood animation world and his obituary is well worth reading.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Congress Changing Patent Laws?

Excellent news for large corporations. They won't have to pay off those pesky little inventors they steal from anymore...

Among the proposed changes in both bills is a measure to convert the U.S. to a "first-to-file" system for granting patents (which most other countries use) rather than the "first-to-invent" system currently in place. Proponents say this would clearly establish who holds a patent, eliminating many costly lawsuits.

Lackluster LG LCD Offering

LG unveiled a new line of premium LCD TVs, the LBX series. All three will be 1080p sets, planned to roll out in September and priced just above the fray of Chinese-built LCDs: 42" for $2,499, 47" for $3,299, and 57" for $4,499.

They will offer such step-up features as 120Hz motion enhancement, a wider color gamut capability and a glossy piano-black finish—sounds a lot like the like many LCD TVs made by a certain Korean arch-nemesis. During the unveiling, LG execs commented on the fact that some consumers still believe that plasma has a better picture, and announced the addition of a 50" 1080p plasma (50PY3D) to its high-end plasma sets.

Don't Cut in Line at Walt Disney World!

Two months in the can? She needs new friends.

A woman has been charged with beating and kicking another woman she said cut in line at a Walt Disney World attraction in Florida.

Victoria Walker, 51, was released from Orange County jail after posting a $US4,000 bond yesterday, nearly two months after the altercation while in line for the Mad Tea Party.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Putting it All in Perspective

Want to know the world population right now and much more?


Easier to Use Network Managment Tools

Lots of acronyms to get through, but important nonetheless...

OTTAWA and TORONTO, July 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- NuDesign Technologies, Inc., a premiere provider of visual SNMP, CLI, web/XML management development tools, and QNX Software Systems, a leading provider of realtime operating system (RTOS) technology, have formed an alliance to provide NuDesign's Command Line Interface (CLI) highly automated agent code generation tool to users of the QNX(R) Neutrino(R) RTOS.

The NuDesign CLI Code Generation Framework simplifies creation of hierarchical CLI. The framework implements command hierarchy navigation, command completion, command line editing, history, and a basic set of common commands. The framework makes it very easy to extend and customize the CLI for device configuration. An optional component supporting IETF's NetConf protocol will be made available at a later date. It contains mechanisms to install, manipulate, and delete the configuration of network devices.

"QNX development tools are compatible with NuDesign's embedded management agent generation tools, so it literally takes minutes to generate a working CLI or SNMP agent using NuDesign agent development studio and the QNX Momentics(R) development suite," said Shehzad Haq, vice president of business development at NuDesign.

Fully functional, time-limited evaluations are available at www.ndt-inc.com.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sanyo Demonstrates World's Brightest Pro Grade LCD Projector

Sanyo announced the high-luminance PLC-XF47 LCD Projector, which will offer the exclusive PJ-Net Organizer Plus C for monitoring projector functions remotely.

Sanyo’s two new high-luminance projectors are equipped with redesigned optical engines and networking features. "Sanyo has always lead the industry in value-priced, high brightness projectors for large venues but the PLC-XF47 takes us to a new level with optional non-compressed HD wireless capabilities," says Mark Holt, the vice president and general manager for Sanyo's Presentation Technologies Division. "The PLC-XP100L breaks ground as the brightest LCD projector in its class with some exciting new maintenance features."

The PLC-XF47 is the brightest professional-grade LCD projector in the industry with 15,000 lumens, and it is completely compatible with throwing extra-large images to meet the needs of large gatherings, conferences and special events. In the unlikely event that the lamp burns out, the projector is equipped with a failsafe feature to ensure the image is not interrupted.

In addition to wired networking capabilities, the PLC-XF47 is the first Sanyo projector to provide a complete HD-Wireless System, which is capable of receiving uncompressed 720p and1080i data wirelessly, from distances approximately 100ft. away with less than 1 millisecond of latency. The system is robust enough to provide independent frame-by-frame transmissions. It fully supports video data rates of up to 1.5Gbps and operates in the 20MHz bandwidth (conforming to worldwide 5GHz regulations). To accommodate projection in a variety of locations, the PLC-XF47 accepts up to twelve different lenses to adjust for room and screen size.

The Hybrid Crosstalk Canceller eliminates ghosting of images and reduces signal interference on the LCD panels. Intelligent Sharpness Control automatically analyzes the signal components to select the best sharpness setting for clearer sharper pictures. For increased flexibility, the PLC-XF47 uses the Multi-Versatile Interface Platform, which accommodates a wide variety of exchangeable interface boards allowing user to select the best solution for the desired application. The PLC-XF47 is available in October for $29,995.

Blended iPhone up to $1,126

For those of you (over a million and counting) that saw Blendtec "blend" an Apple iphone into dust you can still bid for the remnants on eBay....

Architectural Firms Super-size

Business Week Online

Paula Lehman 7/16/2007

"Starchitects" like Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano may dominate the headlines. But it's the super-firms that dominate the global building industry. Rampant mergers and acquisitions are resulting in firms that are powered by an unusually large collection of architects. The recent acquisition of New Jersey's Hillier Architecture by Edinburgh [Scotland]-based RMJM, followed by the July 6 acquisition of Baltimore-based RTKL Associates by Arcadis, whose global headquarters is in Arnhem, Netherlands, exemplifies an emerging trend in which architectural firms are shelling out big bucks to super-size themselves.


Another Microsoft DRM Hack

One has to wonder...

SEATTLE (Associated Press)-

Microsoft Corp. is once again on the defensive against hackers after the launch of a new program that gives average PC users tools to unlock copy-protected digital music and movies.
The latest version of the FairUse4M program, which can crack Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people )'s digital rights management system for Windows Media audio and video files, was published online late Friday. In the past year, Microsoft plugged holes exploited by two earlier versions of the program and filed a federal lawsuit against its anonymous authors. Microsoft dropped the lawsuit after failing to identify them.

The third version of FairUse4M has a simple drag-and-drop interface. PC users can turn the protected music files they bought online - either a la carte or as part of a subscription service like Napster - and turn them into DRM-free tunes that can be copied and shared at will, or turned into MP3 files that can play on any type of digital music player.

"We knew at the start that no digital rights management technology is going to be impervious to circumvention," said Jonathan Usher, a director in Microsoft's consumer media technology group, in a phone interview.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cell Ads to Target Single Campus Environments

MobileCampus partners with universities to deliver free messaging services to students who opt in. The SMS system can range campuswide -- from the administration to ticklers and scheduling notes from individual sports teams or clubs. The school and its groups get the service free, with ads and offers from local vendors underwriting the cost.

Charging 20 cents a message, a campaign for a tech vendor like Dell might spend less than $1,000 reaching all of the tech enthusiasts on a large campus. "If we can get 30% to 40% to check it out, that translates into a lot of activity" for a small cost relative to papering the local media with ads, Ryan says. He believes that while MobileCampus is focused on the universities right now, the model is portable to a host of different demographics and niches and that this is a more appropriate way to use mobile.

RCF to Compete with Harman and Telex

Once primarily known in the US as a parts supplier to EAW, Italian manufacturer RCF is poised for a comeback...
RCF aims to complete acquisitions over the next two years to form a group that would occupy third place in the industry behind Harman International (NYSE:HAR) , which operates in the sector with the JBL brand, and Robert Bosch GmbH unit Telex, which is present with the Electro-Voice brand.

Home Theater Becoming a Commodity?

Epson America and Atlantic Technology are teaming up on a complete home theater system designed to fill what the companies call an unserved segment of the market. Called Ensemble, the system is designed to be sold by specialty AV retailers and custom installers as a value-oriented package for consumers who don’t have a firm grasp of the home theater concept.

Built around Epson 720p and 1080p 3-chip LCD projectors, Ensemble includes Atlantic Technology left, center, and right speakers built into a horizontal housing that also includes a motorized 100in. screen. In addition, the system comprises two surround speakers built into a cradle that holds the projector; a 10in. subwoofer with built-in amplification for all channels; an AV controller with DVD player; a universal remote with LCD display; and a cable management system. The systems—$4,999 for the 720p system and $6,999 for the step-up 1080p version—are due to ship in November. The high-end projector upscales all video content to 1080p resolution.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Microsoft Zune DRM Defeated

Yet another DRM scheme bites the dust...

Confused about Data Wiring Standards?

We've used Siemon for both information and product for years. Outstanding, and well worth reading.

First Time in a Recording Studio?

Dolphin Music has an interesting introductory microphone tutorial...

NFL to Broadcasters: Your 45 Seconds are Up!

So pro football now has a 45-second rule. As my print colleague Adam Thompson writes, media Web sites reporting on NFL players and coaches are now limited to 45 seconds per day of audio and video shot on NFL property. That includes the team facilities where reporters spend much of the six days between games watching coaches hold forth, interviewing players and reporting on the doings of the practice fields.

That's not 45 seconds per subject -- it's total. Interview a quarterback, two running backs, a wide receiver and throw in the coach's comments and you've got about nine seconds for each of them. After 24 hours the audio and video have to come down. And segments have to link back to NFL.com and team sites.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sony/Microsoft versus Nintendo

Interesting piece on game console divergence. Nintendo's carving a unique (and apparently very profitable) niche for itself with their Wii.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

JBL Trademark Dispute

You won't believe this one...

Harman International is facing an unlikely opponent in a trademark dispute- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). According to several wrestling Web sites, the two are battling over four trademarks to the name “JBL,” with the WWE attempting to trademark the name for one of its wrestlers. Harman is objecting, citing its own trademarked electronics brand of that name. The battle started when the wrestling league attempted to obtain a quartet of trademarks for “JBL,” which is the ring name of the wrestling villain whose initials stand for “John Bradshaw Layfield.” Layfield, also known for his frequent appearances on Fox News and CNBC stock market shows, has been a pro wrestler for more than 10 years and has used the JBL name for much of that time.
By the way, he was born John Charles Layfield...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Think the US Might be a Bit Behind?

NTT DoCoMo Tests Faster Cell Network

Associated Press 07.13.07, 4:30 AM ET

TOKYO - Japan's largest mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. said Friday it began testing a new cellular network nearly 100 times faster than its current system. The company said in a press release it had started testing equipment it hopes will yield download speeds of up to 300 megabits per second. Current maximum down speeds are 3.6 megabits per second. Completion of the new network is scheduled by 2009.

The Legend of Gloveless Nick Released

Emmaco's Entertainment Division released the first audio chapter of the second PusBaby book, Who Cut the Queso? today.
Download it for free at http://www.pusbaby.com/ for your son's listening pleasure...
The Legend of Gloveless Nick tells how baseball was truly invented, and as usual has a delightfully disgusting ending.

Economical Friday- Aperion Audio

Based in Portland, free shipping, 30 day money back, highly recommended, and remarkably inexpensive line of speakers sold online...

Take a look- from towers to surround sound, powered subwoofer to satellites...


Manufacturer Protects Dealer Channel

Something we haven't seen in a long time in our own industry....

Networking giant moves to stop unauthorised resellers undercutting channel partners. Networking giant Cisco is set to overhaul the front end of its Smartnet technical support scheme in a bid to prevent unauthorised dealers from undercutting Silver and Gold partners that are in the Cisco shared support programme (CSSP).


Technicolor Transmits Transformers Via Satellite

PARIS, France and BURBANK, Calif.-Jul 10, 2007

Thomson Delivers Transformers: First Motion Picture Sent Via Satellite Simultaneously to Domestic and International Theatres. Technicolor Digital Cinema Transmits DreamWorks/Paramount Feature Via Industry’s First Widely Deployed Integrator Neutral Digital Cinema Distribution Network. Through its Technicolor Digital Cinema business, today announced it is the first to deliver a motion picture via satellite day-and-date to international and domestic theatre locations utilizing an integrator neutral digital cinema distribution network.

Disney Borrows $1.1 Billion in Short Term Notes

What for?

July 13 (Reuters) - The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday sold $1.1 billion in a two-part note sale, joint book-running manager Credit Suisse said. The size of the deal was increased from an originally planned $750 million. BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs & Co. and J.P. Morgan were the other joint book-running managers for the sale.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Bad News for Web DJs

Judges clear way for higher Internet radio royalties

By Jim Puzzanghera, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court panel has declined to delay a substantial increase in royalties that Internet radio stations owe for playing music, clearing the way for the hike to begin on Sunday.
Webcasters had sought an emergency stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing that the higher rates would drive many of them out of business. Some small Internet radio stations already have stopped broadcasting to avoid accruing royalty payments because the rate hike is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006.

The court made its ruling Wednesday and released the decision this morning. The Copyright Royalty Board, an obscure group of federal judges, set the new rates in March, eliminating a provision that allowed small webcasters to pay 10% to 12% of their revenues instead of a set per-song fee for every listener. The current rate of .0762 of a cent each time a song is played will more than double by 2010, and many Internet radio stations will face royalty payments greater than their revenues.

My Lawyers are Better than Yours...

This one will bring a chuckle...

New York (July 12, 2007)--Amergence Technologies, formerly SunnComm International, and MediaMax Technology are being sued by Sony BMG for damages caused by Sony’s ill-fated use of the companies’ DRM schemes on various CDs in 2005. The multi-label media company is looking for $12 million for damages.


Christie Acquires Vista Systems

CYPRESS, CA -- Christie has acquired Vista Controls Systems (Vista), makers of video processing systems, including the acclaimed Vista Spyder. The move creates a comprehensive source for image processing and projection solutions for professional display markets--combining the power and flexibility of Vista's video switchers and real-time windowing and composition products with the power, performance and reliability of award-winning Christie projection systems.

Giants Go 720p with Diamond Vision

The Diamond Vision screen at AT&T Park boasts more than 3 million pixels and stands 103 feet wide and about 31 feet tall. The stadium has also added 12 personal HD monitors, serving real-time stats to the best seats in the house.

Turner Field and Dolphin Stadium also feature the new Mitsubishi HD system.

Nokia Puts eBay's Skype on Handsets

By DANIEL THOMAS July 11, 2007 1:52 p.m.

LONDON -- Mobile-phone giant Nokia Corp. said Wednesday that it would add eBay Inc.'s Skype Internet telephony service to a new device.

The world's largest mobile handset maker by shipments will for the first time make a Skype installation link available on a phone. Users of the N800 Internet Tablet device will be able to make phone calls over wireless Internet connections, often called Wi-Fi, rather than traditional radio networks.

With Internet telephony now becoming available on mobile phones, some analysts predict that mobile phone operators, such as Vodafone Group PLC, could see a fall in call revenues.
However, mobile operators at the same time are investigating ways to offer cheaper calls to customers, including Internet telephony.

"Our users are no longer just using Skype on their computer desktops," said Eric Lagier, Skype's head of business development for mobile. "With the growth of mobile devices and Wi-Fi, consumers expect to be connected wherever they are, at the office, at home or on the move," he said.

iPhone in a Blender?

Perhaps the very first video of an Apple iPhone put in a blender. Why ask why?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

FYI- Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM)

Seen one of these devices and wondered what it was?
Last year Arbitron started implementing a new way of measuring how people listen to radio by replacing paper based systems used by Nielsen Media Research. By encoding a signal in participating radio stations, listeners carrying these portable measurement devices automatically record each location they enter, whether it be an office, car wash, retail store, or other facility. Plans are well underway to deploy in the top 50 North American markets by the end of 2008. European deployment is already underway.

Solderless Connectors

BTX introduces our next-generation of solderless connectors, the new, patent pending MaxBlox EZ Termination System. Building on the technology of BTX’s previous solutions, this innovative, rugged all new design allow installers to terminate an HD15 or a DB9 with just a screwdriver, and mount it in a panel, plate, or MaxBlox hood in a fraction of the time it would take to solder, saving both time and money.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FCC Radio Spectrum Auction Could Loosen Telecom Grip on Wireless Markets

A coming government auction of valuable radio spectrum could hand Google Inc. and other technology companies their first significant victory in a battle to loosen the grip held by telecom operators on the wireless and broadband markets.

Vacuum Cleaner with Plasma Discharge

Who said it couldn't be done? - an $1,100 vacuum cleaner.

Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. announced a cyclone vacuum cleaner with a function of cleaning air, SC-XD1, that removes dust from exhaust air by the filter mechanism composed of a plasma discharge unit and ultra low penetration air filter.

The number of particles that are larger than 0.3 mμ in diameter and exist in exhaust air, such as dust, can be reduced to 50 per liter, which the company described "as clean as high clean surgery room." The price of SC-XD1 is 131,250 yen (USD 1,065). It will be released Sept. 1, 2007.

Consumers Spend More on Electronics if Studied First on Web

Apparently there are people who get paid to do this...

According to new research from Yahoo! and ChannelForce, consumers who search online for televisions and digital cameras spend ten percent more when making their purchase in-store than those who did not use a search engine. The survey also found that a vast majority research products online prior to making in-store purchases, and that online research is helping consumers make key purchasing decisions before they enter a store.

Key findings include:

Seventy five percent who researched their purchases before visiting a retail location used the Internet as their primary source of information. The leading online resources were retail Web sites (73 percent), manufacturer websites (68 percent) and search engines (49 percent). Those who search spend an average of $31 more on digital cameras and $46 more on digital camera packs.

Calibrate Your HD Video with DSC Labs

For 45 years DSC Labs has been providing precisions video test charts for system optimization. They offer a complete line for HD, HDV, SD, and Digital Cinema calibration.

"The Legend of Gloveless Nick" to Premiere Friday at 10:00 PST

Emmaco's Entertainment Division is releasing the first chapter in The PusBaby Chronicles II- Who Cut the Queso? on Friday, July 13th at 10:00 AM PST on the http://www.pusbaby.com/ website.

The PusBaby Chronicles are a series of short stories geared towards young men in the 8-12 age bracket and feature preposterous yet hilarious passages in the PusBaby family history. The Legend of Gloveless Nick tells the absolutely true story of how PusBaby's ancestors invented baseball and the origin of much of today's baseball lexicon.

As always, these comical stories add advanced vocabulary to challenge the aspiring reader introduced in a format they'll want read over and over again. The MATERIAL IS NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG LADIES.

Monday, July 9, 2007

NYC CCTV Cameras to Combat Terrorism


The New York City Police Department is creating a web of cameras and roadblocks around Lower Manhattan designed to detect, track and deter terrorists.

The New York Times reports that the lower Manhattan Security Initiative will begin monitoring cars moving through the area by the end of this year with the use of more than 100 cameras.

The program is not yet fully financed. But if it is, it would mean a network of license plate readers, as well as three-thousand public and private security cameras below Canal Street.

Police and security officers would staff an operations center and movable roadblocks. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says the area is very critical to the economic lifeblood of the nation. He says the initiative's aim is to make it less vulnerable.

But critics questions the plan's cost, efficacy and effects on privacy. It would cost an estimated $90 million. The department currently has $25 million to spend on it.

E3 Downsizes to New Venue, Excludes Public

In 2007 the event, which runs from 11-13 July, has moved to Santa Monica. Exhibitors are spread around a series of venues and the show has become invitation-only. It is now aimed at the industry's professionals rather than the game-playing public.

Chocolate Reduces Blood Pressure

Here's some good and bad news for chocoholics: Dark chocolate seems to lower blood pressure, but it requires an amount less than two Hershey's Kisses to do it, a small study suggests. The new research from Germany adds to mounting evidence linking dark chocolate with health benefits, but it's the first to suggest that just a tiny amount may suffice.

Volunteers for the study ate just over 6 grams of dark chocolate daily for almost five months — one square from a German chocolate bar called Ritter Sport, equal to about 1 1/2 Hershey's Kisses. People who ate that amount ended up with lower blood pressure readings than those who ate white chocolate. (Newsmax)